I was in court the other day. The non-lawyers in the courtroom were creating chaos, and I understand why. Court can be incredibly stressful, overwhelming, and generally emotional. The things that can be lost or gained – custody, visitation, freedom from incarceration- are high stakes. No one goes to court on low stakes.
My superpower is being able to read people and I assure you that most of the people creating calamity were those people who had little or no trust in their attorney. I understand that to a certain extent to- attorneys know more about how to play the game, the rules that must be followed, the refs that get involved, etc. Many lay people do not and that can mean confusion- they don’t know if their attorney is doing right by them if the attorney does not say something, says something that doesn’t sound right, objects, doesn’t object, calls a witness, doesn’t call a witness. Essentially to an untrusting client, the attorney can do nothing right.
Prime example: A very heated and highly contested custody case was on the docket. “E” had zero trust in his attorney and even less trust in opposing counsel and her clients. On the way out of the courtroom, every player in that case was yelling about something. All the attorneys were calm and collected, but every plaintiff, defendant, spouse of plaintiff, spouse of defendant, relative of plaintiff or defendant- came out of the courtroom like a thunderous hurricane. Bailiffs had to get involved which is never good (the judge is going to know and hear about what just happened).
What none of them knew was that the professionals involved (and there were a few) had all already come to an agreement about the most highly contested parts of the case. None of the professionals were about to announce trial strategy or breakthroughs out loud in the middle of court. Why? Because you don’t want to start more fighting. If your attorney stood up and said, “We have already agreed to that” without ever having talked to you about anything of the sort, you’d be livid and wondering- what on earth is s/he talking about!?!?! Further, the attorney does not have the time to stand there and keep the judge waiting while explaining the intricacies of trial strategy and context of the agreements. Plus, some attorneys charge more for time in court than they do out of court, which means having to sit you down in the courtroom to explain everything can cost you even more money than if you had just waited to talk on the phone another time.
If any single person in that courtroom had faith and trust in their counsel, there would be no yelling or screaming. They would simply think, “Okay, my attorney has my best interest at heart and is fighting for me. They know what I want out of this case. They will tell me what I need to know when I need to know it.”
That did not happen in this case.
I do try to prepare my clients for court in the sense of letting them know that sometimes I have to play the game and it will seem like something is off but I do, in fact, know what they want and I am fighting for it and of course that I will go over everything EVERY THING in detail AFTER court. Not during.